Hard drive storage space - WTF??? and Hidden Files

Windows has been lying to me about how much space my hard drive has. And hiding things from me. You know, when a relationship is built on trust and you find out things like this, it shakes your confidence in your partner.

I’m running Win98 on a Compaq Presario 5461. Last week one of my kids was going to install some new software and got an error message that the hard drive was entirely filled up. “WHAT?! NO WAY.” I looked at DriveSpace and sure enough it said all 9 GB were filled to the brim. I deleted over 200 MB in video and music files, ran Uninstaller QuickClean, and Defrag. After that, DriveSpace still didn’t show any space opened up and I knew it was lying.

Last night I ran thorough ScanDisk and the results informed me that I still had over 3 GB of hard drive space. Also, that there are 400 “hidden files” taking up 50 MB.

I know I didn’t hide those 400 files and no one else around here did either. So, my questions:
—How did they get there?
—How do I locate and view them?

Windows hides alot of it’s own system files, if you know that you didn’t hide them, and know one else did, it’s best to leave them alone, this way they won’t get deleted accidentally. (you can REALLY mess up a computer that way)

When you deleted the files they were storred in the recycling bin and not actually deleted.

Right. Open the Recycle Bin window, click File, then Empty Recycle Bin.

Umm… dudes, I Know about Recycle Bin. I’m not a total tenderfoot here. Like I said, I ran Uninstaller QuickClean which empties the Recycle Bin, eliminates junk files and temporary internet files, and cleans up the registry.

The issue is why DriveSpace is falsely reporting the amount of space. This morning I looked at it again, and it showed 0 GBs being stored! Pink for unused space, blue for occupied space. It showed the entire disk pink (unused). The thing is obviously screwed up somehow, and it was probably this that caused the false report that my hard drive is stuffed to the limit.

So how do I locate the hidden files, anyway? If they’re system files I’ll leave them alone, but if they include junk (or stuff inserted by spyware?) I need to know about it. I don’t like Windows hiding secrets from me. I need transparency to manage my system intelligently.

Sorry… my bad!

Don’t know why the disk space is not showing up correctly (have you checked your swap disk settings).

To see hidden files, go to Windows Explorer and under Tools select Folder Options. Click the View tab and then select Show All Files under Hidden Files.

Go to my computer - tools - folder options - view and look for an entry about hidden files and check/uncheck the appropriate one.

>> Umm… dudes, I Know about Recycle Bin. I’m not a total tenderfoot here
>> So how do I locate the hidden files, anyway?
>> I need transparency to manage my system intelligently.

I got a good laugh out of that. I am beginning to understand what service tech people are up against. Never mind. Carry on.

Boot to DOS. Find how much space you have there. Report back. With Dos, I think you can type DIR to find out what you got.

Do you have disk compression operating in the background? If so the amount of available free space reported will jump around as Windows continuously recalibrates and essentially “estimates” what free space you have left based on the system compression ratios used.

Um, yeah. To elaborate on what astro said, Drivespace is a disk compression utility and is different from disk space. If you’re using Drivespace disk compression then reported free space is an estimate at best. If you’re using the terms drive space and disk space inter-changeably, feel free to ignore this post.

Check your C:\Windows\Temp directory, too. A lot of setup programs use this directory to store temporary files and don’t clean up after themselves.

Have you tried going to Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools? There should be something in there called “Disk Maintenance Wizard” or “Disk Cleanup Tool”. They might help.

DriveSpace essentially does what Stacker used to do. It creates this huge file on your original drive, say C:. Then it re-label the original drive to something else, and call that huge file C: (actually a hidden file on the original drive).

Whenever you store a file into this compressed drive, DriveSpace compresses it, puts it in that hidden file, and update a directory that’s associated with it.

So DriveSpce deals only with compressed drives. You can have 3GB of empty space outside of compressed drives, and it won’t care.

  1. Yeah, trust-relationship :slight_smile: 2.Don’t use DriveSpace for what ever purpose. 3.Don’t take error messages literally. ‘Drive full’ more than often means something else went wrong and the application just returned this message because it didn’t know a better one.

Windows sets the hidden-attribute on a lot of files and dirs. The swap-file, the recycle bin, the directory where it logs what applications you run how often, your browser history, individual folder settings, … I just can repeat that setting Show All Files in Folder Options is a good thing to do. While you’re at it, also set it to not hiding file extensions.

One way to get a list of hidden files is:
Go to DOS, CD to the drive or directory you want having a look at and type DIR /AH /S /V
It will list all() the files with attribute hidden in all() sub-directories from your current directory using verbose format. I suggest redirecting (add >somefile.txt) the output into a file and reading it with Notepad. Or Wordpad, if Notepad chokes on it :rolleyes: You may substitute /AH with /AS to list the system files into another file, I don’t think both options work together.

I have seen, on a 9 GB drive, more than 3 GB stuck in the “TEMP” directory. This was due mainly to the person’s SO downloading and installing and uninstalling and downloading and installing…continuously, for one year. It also, apparantly, contained a lot of “sex programs” that the SO was trying out…

I don’t know if this has anything to do with your problem, but its worth knowing:

If you let windows manage the swap file itself, it will sometimes let it get HUGE and take up space you thought you had free. That’s one of the reasons why I always set up a fixed size swap file, with the minimum and maximum sizes the same. This also keeps the swap file from getting fragmented.